The protests continued to intensify in 1967, as the number of American troops in Vietnam peaked at 450,000. A Catholic priest named Philip Berrigan made his point about the war by pouring blood (mostly from ducks, some of his own) on draft records in a Selective Service office in Baltimore. One activist confronted Johnson with a sign that read: “LBJ, Pull Out Like Your Father Should Have Done!” Student protesters would taunt the president by chanting “Hey, hey, LBJ how many kids did you kill today?”
When Democrats convened at their party convention in Chicago in August 1968, thousands of protesters gathered in Grant Park to make their voices heard by party leaders and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had become the nominee after Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection. The protesters were not tame. The activists who arrived in Chicago, as one later recalled, “were the children of the Democratic Party … We expected nothing from Republicans. We expected everything from Democrats.” The Youth International Party, one of the groups heading the protests, announced that they would nominate a pig, the epithet often applied to police and politicians, to run against Humphrey. The Yippies threatened to dump LSD into the city water and used the most outlandish language possible when speaking to reporters about the leaders of the Democratic Party. After the police violently attacked the protesters under the direction of Democratic Mayor Richard Daley, some marched with Humphrey’s initials—HHH—fashioned into a logo that looked like barbed wire. The protesters had nothing nice to say about Johnson.
During the fall, students continually heckled Humphrey at almost every appearance. Humphrey believed that they would cost him the election. When one demonstrator in Seattle shouted at him in the middle of a speech that he should be brought before a United National Court to be on trial for having supported the war, an angry Humphrey lashed back: “Now you have had equal time—shut up!” Another yelled out “Racist! Racist!” The nominee even went so far as to tell the CBS reporter Roger Mudd that the violence in Chicago had been the fault of the protesters, not the police: “The obscenity, the profanity, the filth that was uttered night after night in front of the hotels was an insult to every woman, every mother, every daughter, indeed every human being, the kind of language that no one would tolerate at all.” (Realizing the comment was a mistake, Humphrey walked it back within 24 hours). Although their focus remained on the Democratic ticket, who these leftist activists believed betrayed them, they also showed up at Republican events and at rallies for third-party candidate George Wallace.
The students did not let up after Richard Nixon was president. Although the president began the process of Vietnamization, pulling U.S. troops out of the conflict, he undertook a massive bombing campaign and a secret invasion of Cambodia. It seemed the war would never end. When the National Guard killed four students in a protest at Kent State University in May 1970, protests erupted all around the nation. “The very fabric of government was falling apart,” then-National-Security Adviser Henry Kissinger lamented. “The Executive Branch is shell-shocked. After all, their children and their friends’ children took part in the demonstrations.” Almost one year after the Kent State massacre, there were two solid weeks of anti-war protests, including student sit-ins and die-ins at government offices like the Justice Department and Selective Service Administration. Twenty-five thousand people calling themselves the Mayday Tribe later attempted to bring the entire government to a halt. “If the government doesn’t stop the war, we will stop the government,” their posters warned. The plan was to peacefully use their bodies to block government employees and their automobiles, preventing workers from getting to their jobs. Having obtained advance knowledge of the plan, the Nixon administration, with the help of the National Guard as well as Army and Marine troops, was able to crack down on the protests before they had much effect.